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Museum seeks clarity on its future

Mayor agrees to meet with board after recent funding decision

By Alison Taylor

The president of the Whistler Museum’s board of directors is appealing to council for more direction and clarity of its priorities for the organization.

Alex Kleinman said he was very disappointed by the recent decision to maintain the museum’s municipal grant at $80,000, far short of the requested $331,000.

“I’m very hopeful that a good discussion will take place with the council,” he said this week, adding that he hopes the future of the museum will be added as an item for discussion during council’s upcoming retreat.

“We’re not complaining that we didn’t get enough money,” added Kleinman. “We don’t know where to go.”

Ever since the decision to abandon plans to build a library/museum, the board has spent countless hours and a lot of money working on a long-term plan for museum programming and the museum itself. It is currently housed in cramped trailers behind the new standalone library building in the heart of the village.

Kleinman added that the municipality has been a partner in the extensive planning process, with guidance from staff and a council representative on the board.

Earlier this year the board presented its vision to council, which included a $14 million 20,000 square foot facility in the village to be built after the Games. It is based on a unique facility designed to celebrate mountain culture and contribute to the resort’s economic success.

“This isn’t the museum’s dream,” said Kleinman. “It’s a responsible, sustainable proposal.

“This was a responsible answer to the question: what is a reasonable heritage initiative?”

Council did not endorse that plan. And the recent grant allocation highlights a reluctance at the council table.

Kleinman recognizes there are finite municipal resources available. The museum, he said, is not looking to create more problems and it is not looking to prepare for the 2010 Games in half measures.

“Either we do something really good,” he said, “or let us very quietly be in the background.”

Mayor Ken Melamed has agreed to sit down with the board in the weeks to come.